Houston at L.A. Lakers
Time: 9:30 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: HOU -3
Odds c.o. 5dimes
The Lakers are 16-12 at home this season. It sits three games behind No. 8 Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference standings with a 28-29 overall record.
The Lakers had flirted with jettisoning most of its young talent in hopes of acquiring Anthony Davis, but the Pelicans simply were not taking the deal, no matter how much butter and icing Magic Johnson put on it. Instead, the team will likely make its run at Davis in free agency, which is probably for the best as it is. The Lakers have built up some young talent that needs to be given time to mature, rather than dealing the whole wad of it for one proven superstar.
Kyle Kuzma has looked to have some “superstar” in him at times, and Brandon Ingram is an enigma worth seeing out, as well. The Lakers have seemed to demote Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to the bench, and that is something of a surprise since he was initially acquired to be the defensive 2-guard L.A. needed in its backcourt rotation.
Second-year point guard Josh Hart, too, likely has a promising future of his own. The Lakers simply have too much going on to let it all go in hopes of acquiring Davis, and it should consider itself lucky that Dell Demps asked too much for Davis, because L.A., really, was already offering too much with Lonzo Ball, Ingram, Kuzma, and several other parts (including draft picks).
HOU TEAM NOTES:
Though the Rockets have struggled this season, the team has won six of its last 10 overall and still is situated No. 5 in the Western Conference. The team lost Trevor Ariza over the offseason, hoping that replacing him with Carmelo Anthony would solve its problems. It did none of that, and the team has taken many steps back defensively, which ultimately is the reason it has failed to succeed at the rate it did a year ago. Houston is surrendering 111.1 points per game and scoring 113.2 itself, which yields just a 2.1 positive, point differential.
The Rockets must tighten up its defense significantly to rejoin the realm of Western Conference contenders, which many are feeling can still happen.
But it cannot be all Clint Capela’s work, despite the outstanding season the center is putting together.
Capela recently suffered an injury and was said to be out for four to six weeks. That leaves the Houston Rockets with a massive hole at the 5-spot, given its lack of sizeable backups. Nevermind the fact that Clint Capela alone was having a career breakout season.
Capela had been making a strong bid to be an All-Star and it is easy to see why Houston felt comfortable releasing Dwight Howard to clear the way for Capela.
Truth be told, he has a little of young Dwight, in him and his game. Capela averages 17.6 points, 12.9 rebounds and 1.88 blocks per game while posting the second-best PER on the Rockets. He has proven to be the anchor of a defense that greatly needs perimeter improvement, and it is hardly all the fault of Harden as the narrative often goes.
Harden is playing passing lanes well, coming up with 2-plus steals a game, while heading the offensive attack in his usual masterful way. Harden’s averaging 33.9 points and 8.6 assists per game.
ATS TRENDS (c/o Covers):